The Covid-19 pandemic abruptly changed how companies ran almost overnight. The traditional 9-5 workweek is unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic ubiquity, as it's been proven that companies and individual employees are more productive in a remote-first hybrid model.
Below we cover five ways that the pandemic has changed the traditional workweek.
Flexibility and flexible hours increase productivity. Of course, a rigid schedule might work for some people. Still, most have found that the flexibility to start later in the day has increased workers' happiness and decreased stress, resulting in higher productivity. We all do better work when we're less stressed out and happier. With these benefits in mind, it's no wonder that flex hours are becoming the new norm for many.
The advanced technology we have available today has made remote work extraordinarily viable and effective, but that's not to say companies should necessarily abandon all in-person interaction. There are many benefits of remote-first or hybrid work models. A remote-only work model can't replicate social interactions, and a sense of community comes from in-person communication and interaction.
Businesses of all types and structures are a social phenomenon. Almost every kind of industry is built on face-to-face engagement first: the casual interaction at the water cooler or over lunch with colleagues that gives companies their "flow." Familiarity fostered in physical space helps make teams work together effectively.
Many companies are choosing to adopt this model because of the benefits of combining in-person and WFH (work from home) models.
Many companies are now offering their employees the option to put in extra flex work hours each day, so they only have to work a four-day week instead of the more traditional nine to five every weekday. This gives employees much more freedom in their lives, and for many, compressed hours are a great alternative to strict start and stop times.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led many companies worldwide to rethink traditional offices and their purpose. Some choose to downsize the number of physical office spaces in favour of centrally or regionally located headquarters. In other cases, companies have made the switch to virtual-only.
Research has shown that, contrary to what many predicted, an increase in remote-first work results in increased efficiency and productivity, improved employee morale, and a positive uptick in feelings of job satisfaction and work-life balance.
Many companies have transitioned their physical office space towards a center to gather for community-building events and team meetings that require face-to-face collaboration. The majority of work is completed virtually and remotely. Meetings become emails, and video calls fill in for most in-office interactions.
Probably the most significant new demand on many people’s attention when working from home has been experienced by parents. Many relied on childcare or school to keep track of their kids for the day while they focused on work at the office but suddenly found themselves having to care for their children while working from their home office.
Working from home also has a whole host of other distractions and issues, from finding a suitable place to get work done to the tempting call of a nap on the living room sofa around 2:30 in the afternoon. Suddenly, the line separating the two blurred by melding familiar work environments with the home space. In addition, many people feel the strain of guilt or the obligation to respond to communications at all hours of the day since. For some, this lack of division between work and home has led to a desire to return to the office. Going forward, companies seeking to utilize a hybrid or fully remote model must take steps to encourage a healthy work-life balance for their employees.
The future of work seems to be moving towards a hybrid model, as companies committed to being at the technological forefront have a clear advantage in the marketplace. Companies can save on average $11,000 per year per employee by allowing them to work at least part of the time remotely. As a result of this and the other benefits of hybrid work models, most companies will likely keep at least part of their workforce operating remotely for years to come.